A Logo Is Not a Brand
When talking to potential clients, one of the first things we ask them is “what’s your brand?” All too frequently, our hearts sink when the answer to that question is nothing more than “here’s our logo.”
Effective marketing starts with a brand. Your brand is your business identity. What brand comes to mind when you think of these words: Golden Arches, Swoosh, Frappuccino. For me, it’s the french fries from McDonalds, quality running shoes from Nike, and a sugary Starbucks coffee drink. For prospective customers, it’s not just about the product or service you sell, it’s about how you’re perceived. To reiterate, a brand is not just a logo. So what is it? It’s your mission, business values, culture, and what you stand for.
Companies like McDonalds, Nike, and Starbucks are brand-driven companies that are instantly recognizable. Whether you’re going to your local McDonalds, or one in a different country, you know what to expect just from hearing their name.
This is why companies invest so much time and money in building a clear, complete, and compelling brand. They want the right feelings and emotions to be evoked within their target audience whenever their brand comes to mind. It creates a connection that not only retains existing customers but helps acquire new customers as well.
What Are You Afraid Of?
Often, companies (especially smaller ones) see brand management as optional or “extra fluff” they just don’t have time to do. Sometimes companies don’t focus on building a brand because they have a hard time conceptualizing what their brand should be or how it’s different from the products or services they sell. They’re afraid of getting it wrong, but the real fear should be not sitting down to figure it out.
Failing to clearly define your brand usually results in vague and inconsistent marketing that doesn’t resonate with anyone. Customers don’t really know who you are, or what to think of you. This lack of connection between you and your target audience makes it almost impossible to build loyalty with existing customers or attract new customers. Furthermore, if you aren’t clear on what your brand is, don’t expect your customers, employees, salespeople, or freelance designers to figure it out for you.
What Actually is a Brand?
When done correctly, brand development starts with a clear, concise “brand and style guide.” Brand and style guides are documents that lay out your company’s identity, including its mission, values, culture, and yes, even a “personality.” It states how and why you connect with your target audience and explains why your target audience will maintain its loyalty to you. In addition, it also includes stylistic nuts and bolts about what your colors are, your typefaces, and how the logo should be used. When hiring a freelance designer, by giving them a brand and style guide, it’s much easier for them to create ads and marketing material. Once the brand guide is completed, everything flows from there. Suddenly marketing, sales, and even product development becomes less mysterious and much more efficient.
Try Hiring a Brand Developer
You already know that when running a business it’s incredibly important to offer a quality product or service. You may be an expert at giving your customer the product or service they want, but building a brand is not part of your skillset.
If you’re struggling with brand development, or you think your existing brand needs to be refreshed or re-invented, working with a brand expert can move the process forward much faster and more effectively than you might otherwise be able to do yourself. Brand experts have been through the branding process many times, with many companies. They understand what elements to focus on, what works, and what doesn’t.
Unsuccessful do-it-yourself attempts at branding can waste time and money, create customer confusion, and are very difficult to undo. More importantly, your digital advertising may be a waste of money if your brand is not clearly defined and not directly reflected in the advertising you’re doing. Before starting any advertising campaigns, invest your time in developing clear and concise brand and style guides. Your return on investment will be well worth the effort.